Eating For Pleasure

I recently read an article published online by the journal Scientific American titled,

“How Sugar and Fat Trick the Brian into Wanting More Food”

This article was written on January 1st, 2016 by Ferris Jabr


In summation, the article discusses how human advancements have resulted in an overabundance and availability of food. This, in turn, has led to overconsumption or the habit of eating for pleasure and no longer for survival. This change in the way we obtain food has resulted in a chemical change in our brains. According to the article, this is referred to, by scientists, as Hedonic Hunger. Simply put, hedonic hunger is what we consider to be “cravings.” A strong urge to eat foods even when we are not hungry. This urge in combination with copious amounts of inexpensive and unhealthy food has led to rising rates of obesity and associated health concerns.

If the body is functioning correctly, when we are low on energy hormones are released to create a feeling of hunger. Once we have consumed enough nutrients a different hormone is released to create a feeling of being full. These hormones alternate throughout the day to ensure energy levels remain balanced. The control center that regulates this release of hormones is the hypothalamus.

It wasn’t until the late 1990s that rodent research led to a new discovery about food and the brain. The hypothalamus was not the only pathway capable of releasing the hungry/full hormones. Scientist calls it “the reward circuit” and it is the same area that lights up in response to gambling or drug use. This part of the brian is “captivated” by foods high in sugar or fat. This is a problem because the reward circuit is POWERFUL. Studies show that our brain’s reward circuit lights up (releasing large amounts of dopamine) simply by viewing or smelling foods that are high in sugar and fat. The release of dopamine consistently over long periods of time can create dopamine resistance in the body that ultimately results in larger amounts of the sweet or fatty food required to achieve the same pleasure high. On the opposide side of this cycle, we find sharp drop-offs and very low lows. The absence of food that activates the reward circuit, in a person who has routinely consumed it,  can result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and desperation. This often results in the person consuming more unhealthy foods in an attempt to maintain their “sense of well-being.”



This article goes in-depth about the modern relationship that many humans have with food. Now that we no longer have to hunt and gather food to survive we can eat more freely and in much larger amounts than ever before. With so much abundance of food, how do we ensure that we are self-regulating or diets in a way that is healthy but still enjoyable? Much research has been done to answer that question. Today, you can log onto a computer and find resources dedicated to helping you manage your diet through portion control and a balanced diet.

One of my favorite websites for this is

This site has a variety of resources for you to use including a food tracker and lifestyle quizzes.

Let’s be the generation that reverses the trend and lives long, healthy, active lives!


The link for the article is here:

2 thoughts on “Eating For Pleasure

  1. Great topic! Not only are our own bodies tricking us into eating more, so are food industries and the supermarkets/companies that they work with. Almost every fast food company has their share of supersized food on their menu, such as Big Mac’s, Double Whopper’s, and more. Some companies go so far as to serve customer’s with larger plates, so that they’ll eat more. Supermarket strategies can also play a role in making people eat more. For example, they place more valuable foods, such as dairy products and meat, in the back of stores to make customers walk through isles of tempting junk foods on their way back.

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